Was The Gopher From Caddyshack All In The Groundskeeper's Head?

Gopher Caddyshack

Caddyshack is one of those movies that shouldn't be taken that seriously, though it's hard not to given its impressive legacy as one of the best and only comedies about golf. The all-star cast and outlandish plot has made this movie a cult classic, and one that always tends to find its way on television and streaming at least a couple times a year.

I did my latest re-watch of Caddyshack on television, having come from a household where this movie was shown to me many times throughout my formative years. This time was different, however, and now I'm stating my case on a theory I'd concocted during this particular viewing. The iconic gopher from the film wasn't actually real to anyone but groundskeeper Carl, and existed almost entirely in his head.


Carl Is The Only Person Who Sees The Gopher

Caddyshack is a movie that frequently borders on flat-out unbelievable scenarios, but for all its antics, one fact remains: Bill Murray's Carl is the only character in the movie that physically sees the gopher, and even has a conversation with it.

Even at the beginning of Caddyshack, Judge Elihu Smails only sees the flag sink into the hole in the green. Carl is tasked with finding a creature he had yet to notice in his tenure at Bushwood Country Club, though it stands to reason he's a little distracted on the job. He has a lot of balls to wash, and a lot of old ladies to watch tee off. He only saw the gopher after being informed he had to take care of it by Sandy McFiddish, and thus began his obsession to handle this varmint with ruthless aggression and extreme prejudice.

The reality is, if the Judge halted construction on the work site like he threatened, any gopher may have returned to its habitat and the issue may have stopped there. Unfortunately, McFiddish already set Carl loose and gave him the directive to "Kill every gopher on the course." With a clear directive and a drive to eventually replace McFiddish on the course, Carl's motivation manifested the gopher and all the wackiness that accompanied it.

Carl Caddyshack

Carl Is Unhinged, And On Drugs And Alcohol A Solid Portion Of The Film

From the jump, it's clear that Caddyshack's Carl isn't all there. He lives in the maintenance shed, is actively destructive to property and has little to no regard for human life. His constant use of drugs and alcohol probably plays some factor in all of that, and could be why he's seeing the gopher and having conversations with him.

Or perhaps the constant drinking and drug use exacerbate an underlying issue Carl has, which is driving him to believe he's literally at war with a singular gopher destroying the golf course. Realistically, there's no way a gopher could wreak that much havoc on one golf course, not to mention there are typically many more gophers on an average acre of land. And yet, Carl only sees the one, and thinks that by killing it, his problem will be solved.

Carl is blinded by his ambition, alcohol and a bit of reefer. A more sober man may have realized this issue could be handled with relative ease, but Carl has this gopher built up like it's his white whale. For him, this task is akin to Captain Ahab chasing Moby Dick, so it's not too surprising that he literally blows the country club sky high all in attempt to catch his white whale.


The Gopher Reacts To The Film's Title Logo As It Flies Into The Frame

The opening scene of Caddyshack features the gopher dancing in the opening, only to be interrupted by a golfball with the film's title flying into the frame. This is not an actual golfball, and yet, the gopher sees it approaching and gets out of the way. Is the gopher some kind of Deadpool-esque character being capable of breaking the fourth wall?

That much seems evident by the fact that the gopher plays to the camera more than once in Caddyshack. But remember, Carl also acknowledges this gopher as real. Perhaps this is some confirmation that Carl is aware he's in a movie and that nothing matters, hence why he blows up the golf course? Okay, maybe that take is a little too out there,bu it's not like this is the only thing about Caddyshack that doesn't make sense.

A better theory could be that because the gopher is a figment of Carl's imagination, all of its antics are a part of the assistant groundskeeper's warped reality. In this context, perhaps the whole event took place in Carl's mind, and was a blending of some reality between events that actually happened and stuff that almost certainly did not. It's food for thought, for sure, but maybe a theory best saved for another time.


Does This Theory Change Anything About Caddyshack?

Usually movie theories introduce ideas that can alter the way someone thinks about a film, or drastically warps its message. I tried to think of ways that the gopher was all a construct in Carl's head, and how the story itself would be affected. Ultimately, I don't think choosing to believe this theory changes a damn thing.

Whether the gopher was real or not, Carl would still blow up the golf course, the judge would be out $80,000, and everybody would still get laid. It's not about whether or not the gopher exists after the initial complaint, but more that Carl believes it exists and that he's motivated to go to the most extreme measures to ensure it is killed. So really, Caddyshack fans can believe whatever they want in regards to this theory, unless of course Bill Murray or someone confirms the gopher was legit.

Caddyshack is available to rent on demand for a small fee on Vudu, so perhaps give it a watch and imagine hitting the links in the future. As always, CinemaBlend in the place to be for the latest news in the world of movies and television.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.